CHICAGO – A homegrown, former MLB star is ramping up efforts to feed Chicagoans, as grocery bills rise. Curtis Granderson brought his food security awareness campaign to North Lawndale Thursday during a food give away.

Inside each grocery bag, there are four healthy meals cooked and ready to go, meaning one more family won’t have to worry about putting dinner on the table this week.

“I don’t have to worry about having a meal. It’s healthy and I love it,” said Joann Dawson as she picked up her bag.

Meals are given out each week at the Firehouse Community Arts Center. On Thursday, Ganderson’s Grand Giving campaign, with the help of Mariano’s, lent their support to those who need it most — and they’re hearing one response repeatedly.

“‘Thank you.’ That’s the big thing. It’s amazing how, no matter how down-and-out, people are still appreciative and thankful, and they know that their support needed, and support given,” said Granderson.

The Firehouse Center is dedicated to preventing and interrupting violence, and organizers say making sure people are not desperate to feed their families is part of that.

“If you have kids who don’t have a full belly, it creates temptations to hit the streets to find ways to make money to feed people and sometimes folks get caught up in the most violent situation or complicated situation, all in which you’re trying to feed their family,” said Pastor Phil Jackson, founder and CEO of Firehouse Community Arts Center.

In the kitchen are people who’ve seen that violence and now help feed their neighbors.

“This is a blessing to the community because you have a lot of people that’s out of work,” said Michael Brown, who was picking up food.

While Granderson uses his all-star celebrity to shine a light on this, he’s asking for others to help, too.

“They don’t need to be a celebrity to be able to help. Time, effort, energy and just loving and caring goes a very long way.”

You can donate when you check out at any Mariano’s this month to keep the giving going into the holiday season — or go to GrandGiving.org.

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